The sculpture “David and Goliath” was unveiled in 1988 in memory of the International Brigades, military units established at the start of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with foreign volunteers from many different countries who came to Spain to fight for the Republic and against fascism, which was spreading throughout Europe.
The International Brigades were military units established in Moscow in October 1936 by the Communist International (Komintern), the umbrella body for communist parties around the world. The recruiting centre was set up in Paris, and the French Communist Party was placed in charge of organisation. Nonetheless, many of the foreign volunteers from 53 countries who joined the brigades were simply idealists recruited and sent to the Republic by the many committees set up to provide aid to Spain in different States. The aim was to give support to the Republic, which was under siege from forces that had risen against the legitimate government in a coup d’état that had sparked armed conflict, as most of the army supported the rebel generals.
Many of these volunteers were workers, and most had received little or no military training. According to the most recent sources, a total of 35,000 international brigadiers fought in the Spanish Civil War, of whom 10,000 were killed in combat. Among the foreign volunteers there were many intellectuals, such as the British author George Orwell who, despite not joining the brigades, fought in the Spanish War as a member of the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) and wrote about his experiences in his book “Homage to Catalonia”.
On September 21, 1938, Dr. Negrín, the head of the Government of the Republic, agreed with the League of Nations to withdraw foreign citizens who were fighting with the Republican army, hoping that Franco would also renounce the help he received from fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, something that never happened. Several events were organized to farewell the brigadists culminating in a parade on Avinguda 14 de Abril in Barcelona (now Avinguda Diagonal). About 300,000 people said goodbye to the antifascist volunteers with banners, flags and flowers, while the Republican aviation threw flyers with words of gratitude for the brigadists.
The sculpture entitled “David and Goliath” is by the New York artist Roy Shifrin and represents the athletic torso of David on a column, with the defeated Goliath at its foot, symbolised by his helmet. The work was financed by the association Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, formed by US citizens who fought in the Civil War, and the US Spanish Civil War Society. The members of this association who contributed to the monument included Edward Kennedy, Woody Allen, Gregory Peck, Leonard Bernstein and Harry Belafonte. The sculpture was inaugurated on 28 October 1988, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the farewell parade on Avinguda Diagonal.
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